many famous Japanese hot springs are fake

many famous Japanese hot springs are fake

expats in hot spring japan

Shirahone hot spring; a fake?!?

I love so many things about Japan

‘honesty’ and ‘soaking in hot springs’ are definitely among them


so I was shocked to stumble across an article on the Washington Post website. It states that many famous  Japanese hot springs are fake!

Can you believe that?!

To complete my shock, the main culprit in the article is Shirahone hot spring, near Matsumoto. With its milky white waters and stunning location in a narrow mountain gorge, Shirahone Onsen is one of my personal favourites. I just love it and have recommended it to so many people since my first visit. Only to read that their white water is actually paint…


Heavenly waters are… paint

And that is not all. The Washington Post claims that many famous Japanese hot springs are fake. After finding out about Shirahone, in 2004, this is what happend;

Government authorities, media outlets and citizen groups scoured the nation’s treasured 22,000 hot springs for evidence of other cheats. Three months of investigations and at least one police raid later, officials have uncovered fraud at scores of onsen nationwide.

The deception seems bottomless: Some proprietors even clandestinely boiled tap water and passed it off as coming from Japan’s natural springs. The tainted hot springs in at least 20 resort towns include several whose waters had been celebrated for centuries in epic poems, fables and woodblock prints. (source: the mentioned Washington Post article)


enjoy Kawayu onsen

Kawayu cannot be tempered with!

So what is the status today?

What is still real in hot spring-land? Where should we go, not to be cheated? Even if you take ‘beautifying your skin’ only as a happy side effect, and you are more after a fun, relaxing and real Japanese experience, do you want to sit in a pool of paint? And pay for that?

I want to know what has been done since about quality controle and correcting the wrong. So far I have not found much about it (in English). Therefore I ask your help!

Please leave a comment if you know more about this. After I gather your facts, I will update this post. Hopefully with good news; that our faith in Japanese honesty has been restored. And that we can enjoy hot springs again without second thoughts!


Thank you for contributing to the truth,



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